Lemon Fennel & Salmon Pasta tastes restaurant-quality; once you’ve mastered this dish, you’ll know you’re a true home cook! It’s all in the amazing taste: the mild anise flavor of the fennel and the bright citrus infusion of the lemon makes this pasta dinner sunny, light, and delectable, perfect for summertime. Lemon Fennel & Salmon Pasta is rich and topped with flaky, fatty salmon — everyone will want more of it and the recipe to boot!

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large bulb fennel, core removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (16-ounce) box fettuccine
  • 1 (1-pound) salmon fillet, skin removed
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • lemon wedges, optional, to taste, for serving
  • fennel fronds, optional, to taste, for garnish


Step 1 –Place a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium-high heat. Make sure the Dutch oven or skillet is large enough to toss the pasta in.

Step 2 –When the pan is hot, add the olive oil, the sliced fennel, and the onion.

Step 3 –Add the kosher salt and stir.

Step 4 –Cover the Dutch oven and let the fennel-onion mixture cook down until the veggies are softened and translucent, about 10 minutes.

Step 5 –Remove the lid and adjust the heat to low.

Step 6 –Stir in the butter.

Step 7 –Continue to sauté the mixture until deeply brown and very soft, about 35-40 minutes.

Step 8 –Remove the Dutch oven from the heat.

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Step 9 –About 10 minutes before the fennel-onion mixture is cooked, set a large pot of heavily salted water to boil.

Step 10 –Season both sides of the salmon fillet with the kosher salt and the black pepper.

Step 11 –Place a separate skillet over high heat.

Step 12 –Add the canola oil, swirling to coat the pan.

Step 13 –When the skillet is just beginning to smoke, add the salmon and sear, until it reaches medium-rare at 135 degrees F, about 3-5 minutes on each side. For well-done, allow the fillet to cook for an additional 3-5 minutes and it reaches 145 degrees F.

Step 14 –Transfer the salmon to a clean cutting board to rest, and reserve until ready to plate.

Step 15 –When the water is boiling, add the pasta.

Step 16 –Boil until about 2 minutes shy of al dente, according to package directions.

Step 17 –Reserve 2 1/2 cups of the pasta water.

Step 18 –Drain the pasta into a colander.

Step 19 –Set the pot with the fennel-onion mixture over medium-low heat.

Step 20 –Add the heavy cream, the red pepper flakes, and the black pepper, stirring to combine.

Step 21 –Bring the cream mixture to a boil, and simmer until slightly reduced and thickened, about 4-5 minutes.

Step 22 –Add the pasta, the lemon zest, and 2 cups of the reserved pasta water, tossing to combine.

Step 23 –Keep the pasta moving constantly until the sauce is glossy and thick, about 4-5 minutes. If the sauce becomes too dry, add splashes of pasta water as necessary.

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Step 24 –Add the lemon juice, while tossing, and stir to fully combine.

Step 25 –Taste and adjust with more of the salt, as needed.

Step 26 –Spoon the pasta mixture into serving bowls while hot.

Step 27 –Flake off large chunks of the seared salmon and sprinkle over the top of each bowl.

Step 28 –Sprinkle with black pepper and the red pepper flakes, then top with the fennel fronds.

Step 29 –Serve.